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Jeffrey Lawson read and re-read the note, as he tried to figure out who was behind the threats and blackmail. The note was very specific. The anonymous author clearly knew that Lawson had been stealing industrial secrets from his company. Winstream Enterprises had technology, cherished by its competitors, and many were willing to pay for an access to Winstream’s state of the art ideas. The Winstream lithium battery technology was advanced, and cutting edge. So, Lawson’s selling of copied Winstream documents was a lucrative undertaking which had yielded almost $3 million over the past few years. The question for Lawson, now, was who knew about his activities.

Meet me at the southwest corner of Cloverton Cemetery at 9:45 PM on Saturday with $200,000 or I will bring my information to both your employer and the FBI. The money is minor compared with what you are making so don’t try and haggle over it. I won’t negotiate.”

Lawson reviewed the sentence structure and choice of words. The words “minor” and “haggle” caught his attention. They were the words frequently used by a former colleague of his, at Winstream,Martin Wagner, a contract engineer at Winstream just 2 years earlier, had a fondness for both words. Wagner was a bit of a slacker at work, and often complained that the quality

organization at the company made his job unbearable with their constant “haggling over minor issues”. Could Wagner be the blackmailer? Lawson was suspicious. These words could not have been used by mere coincidence.

Lawson looked at his watch, as he considered his options. It was 8:00 PM and with the Cloverton Cemetery being only 12 minutes away, he was in no need to rush. Still, he needed time to get prepared for the meeting.

Lawson went to his basement and removed a loose cinder block from the home’s foundation. Bags of money were concealed behind the cinder block, and Lawson gently removed two bags in order to get the prescribed amount of cash. Then he hesitated. Bringing the 9 mm Glock was not something he wanted to do. Lawson had bought the Glock in New York City in a street purchase.

Unregistered, the gun could not be traced back to him. He never had to use it, but perhaps things would be different tonight. He sighed and removed the gun, placing it in a dark grey backpack with the bags of cash.

Lawson put the backpack, a flashlight and a light jacket in the back of his Audi, as he left for the cemetery. Jeffrey wanted some time to scope out the meeting area to make sure that a trap hadn’t been laid for him. Sweat accumulated on his forehead, as he drove cautiously. If needed, he would kill Wagner to keep things silent. He was sure he could do that, if the situation required it. But would he have to?

Lawson arrived at Cloverton just before 8:45 PM, a full hour before his meeting. He parked around the corner from the cemetery gate and walked inside. The groundskeepers never locked the gates, something that suggested that the blackmailer possibly could be a local person. How else would he have known that this site could be easily used for this type of clandestine meeting?

Lawson shielded the beam of his flashlight as he moved toward the southwest corner of the cemetery. A small ray of light gave him enough visibility to avoid the tombstones. Or so he thought.


Lawson kept the pejorative as quiet as he could, after tripping over the small tombstone that he had failed to see. His knee hurt like hell, and he was sure that he had ripped the left

leg of his khaki pants. Moving the shielded beam over to the stone, Lawson could finally see what he had tripped over. It was a relatively new tombstone with a familiar name.

What the hell??” The face of the tombstone read “Martin F. Wagner b1956 – d2016”. This couldn’t be. Was Wagner dead??

As Lawson slowly rose to his feet, he tried hard to consider what this meant for his situation. Clearly, Martin Wagner was not the blackmailer. So, if not Wagner, then who??

Without a warning, Lawson heard a soft voice coming out of the darkness. It was a familiar voice, but one which was completely unexpected.

Hello, Jeffrey.”


A woman dressed in a black hoodie and dark jeans came out of the shadows as Lawson tried to adjust his eyes. Karen Lawson stood only 10 to 15 yards away. His wife, who had left him in

the wee hours of the morning just 5 months earlier, was now standing before him. Where had she been for the last 5 months? She was officially listed as missing in the town’s police files.

Karen, where have you been for the past months? Why are you here?”

The woman ignored the first question, while pondering how to answer the second. “Why am I here? I am here to get what I deserve….”

Lawson cringed at the words, as he understood the meaning behind her reply. But he felt that he could reason with a woman. He had always been able to do that in the past. In fact, he was starting to feel more comfortable, now that he knew Karen had left the note. He would give her the $200,000 and be on his way. He just needed assurance that this was all she wanted.

What do you want Karen? The money? Here, it’s yours.” Lawson tossed the grey backpack over to the woman, as he watched for her reaction.

Karen Lawson didn’t even finch, as the backpack landed next to her.

So, you think that’s what I want? You think that is what I deserve? You are such an asshole Jeffrey.”

Lawson cringed again, as he heard the harshness of her words. “Then what the hell do you want, Karen?”

The darkness of the night prevented Jeffrey Lawson from seeing the tears in his estranged wife’s eyes. But he did see her right hand wiping her face, so he knew that she was likely


You beat the shit out of me for years when we lived together. You forced me to sexually please you whenever you wanted gratification. And you prevented me from seeing my friends and family. And after all of that, you think $200,000 is a reasonable compensation. Go to hell Jeffrey!!”

The volume of her voice at the end of her reply caught Lawson off guard. Quietly, he moved his hand toward the back of his jeans where his Glock was located. But he stopped when he felt

an arm against his back, an arm that quickly grabbed the gun.

Lawson whirled around to see who was behind him. An 18 year old man with tattoos and a bandanna glared at Lawson, as he pointed the Glock back at its owner.

What the fuck? What’s going on?”

Carlos is my companion tonight, Jeffrey. He is here to prepare you for being put in the fucking ground. And fortunately, he is willing to do it for $200,000.”

Carlos smiled, as he pointed the Glock at Jeffrey Lawson’s chest. “An easy $200,000 dollars for less than 1 hour of work.” He laughed, as he cocked the pistol in preparation.

Lawson was sweating and rapidly running out of options. “Karen be reasonable….”

Karen Lawson shook her head in reply. “The time for being reasonable is long past, Jeffrey.”

With that, Carlos Gonzales pumped 3 quick bullets into Jeffrey Lawson’s chest. The man crumpled to the ground, moaning briefly, before finally falling down next to the tombstone of

Martin Wagner. Gonzales laughed, as he looked at his work.

Guess he won’t be bothering you anymore.”

Carlos turned to Karen Lawson to continue the conversation, but he never had a chance. The middle aged woman immediately shot the Latino with a 38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, a gun she had removed from Jeffrey Lawson’s collection earlier in the week, after entering the home that they once shared together.

Gonzales fell to the ground and laid motionless just a few yards away from Jeffrey Lawson. Karen Lawson just stared at him for a minute, before moving on to the final stage of her plan.

Carefully, the gloved woman placed the Smith & Wesson revolver into Lawson’s still warm hand. She moved his fingers over the gun to make sure his prints would be on the revolver.

She then removed $160,000 from the grey backpack before placing the bag a short distance from the body of her dead husband.

Moving on to Gonzales, she decided to leave the body and gun alone. The unregistered Glock was a perfect gun for this crime scene. A local Latino drug dealer, packing heat, making a $40,000 drug deal.

The final item needed for the crime scene was located just behind one of the tombstones. A backpack with individual bags of cocaine was placed near Gonzales’ body to complete the drug deal crime scene.

Oh Jeffrey. I always told you that your drug habit would be the death of you. And now it has done just that. But thanks for the money, love. I will enjoy this $160,000, plus the

other $2.5 million from your stash, as I relocate south. And as for you, well, you can just rot in hell…”

With that, Karen Lawson left the cemetery for her car and the short drive to her husband’s home to retrieve the balance of the cash. A small grin was on her face as she drove toward the house that had once been her home. Yes, more than $2.5 million can buy a lot of fun in Tampa.

Epilogue: A 50 year old woman named Sara Griswold booked the last Greyhound bus out of New Paltz, NY late that Saturday night. She was travelling light. A small suitcase with a few pieces of clothing plus a briefcase which she insisted on holding for the entire trip. She had a personal schedule for the upcoming week which included a visit with a plastic surgeon in Tampa. She made sure that the surgeon understood that she wanted to look younger and was willing to have extensive surgery done to get “the right look”. Her new life was just a short time away and she was eager to see if the Tampa night life was all she had heard it could be…

Author’s Bio: Tom Schmidt is a Chemical Engineer working in medical diagnostics in upstate New York. He enjoys creative writing and has been published on,

fatherstars, short-humour, and 

centered around a Malibu based police detective which he hopes to publish in the future.



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